Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Soul Dialogue #4

I’m getting ready for a 30-minute interview on the NPR program “To the Best of Our Knowledge,” and so I thought I’d have this week's post take the form of a radio interview. 

Radio interviewer: I'm here with Greg Cootsona, author of C.S. Lewis and and the Crisis of Christian, as well as his latest book Mere Science and Christian Faith. I want to start right off with this: We all see, Greg—don’t we?—that there’s no real search, like in the good old days, for what they used to call "the Christian mind."

GSC: “The Christian mind”—I haven’t heard that phrase for a while. But it does sound something like “we take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5)—not exactly what Paul was saying, but probably a reasonable extension of it.

Interviewer: Yes, you can describe it in a number of ways. And here’s another one: there’s no one seeking some overarching Christian philosophy—a worldview, perhaps—that puts it all together.

GSC: Yes, you’re spot on! (As they say in England..) It seems like my college students have become such skilled manipulators of information that they don’t have a unifying thread for all of it.

Interviewer: What do you mean?

GSC: Today’s twentysomething is a digital native, a person who always lived with the panoply of digital devices—and especially smart phones—at their fingertips. They also know the explosion of options that’s represented in the fact that today there are almost 1.5 billion websites.

Interviewer: So, Greg, you’re saying that many people today live in contradictory ways? Now that makes sense to me, but do you have any evidence?

GSC: Yes, and I’ll start with an anecdote from one of my interviews with college students—it was the hardcore chemistry major who told me,
“I’m very science heavy. I would love to have faith, but I need to have the facts… hard data.” And yet she continued, “I prayed, and the prayer worked. So I keep praying even if I don’t believe there’s anything beyond the material world.”
Interviewer: Do Christians do the same thing?

GSC: Absolutely. I'm continually surprised by the various incompatible spiritualities, philosophies, and political ideologies that I hear from Christian students.

Interviewer: In light of this contradictory pluralism running through our brains, is there a way a Christian mind can help?

GSC: It strikes me that one key is emotions, to which we attach ourselves in incompatible ideas. But our emotions change quite quickly. And so we need to create the Christian mind to help us moderate all those vicissitudes.

Interviewer: “Vicissitudes”—that’s quite a word! Impressive... At any rate, are you asserting that it’s simply getting your head in the right space—and that will solve everything?

GSC: No, certainly not. What I am saying will make a difference is directing all of us toward the love of God. Or as Jesus phrased it so well, 
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Jesus (Matthew 22:37)
He’s saying it’s not just the mind, but that we shouldn’t forget it either.

a Trinitarian-looking coat hook?
Interviewer: You’ve also got to complete the passage! Jesus adds this (and I'm going to emphasize one phrase): 
“This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The Law and the Prophets all hang on these two commandments.” Jesus (Matthew 22:38-40)
GSC: Why is “all hang on” so important?

Interviewer: Because Christians today don’t have anywhere to hang all their ideas, feelings, intuitions, emotions, notions, impulses, sensations, and concepts. And that’s a major loss. But Jesus tells us that love of God and one another is what we need.

GSC: Wow! Next time let me be the interviewer!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Next Installment on Writing Your Book: Six Steps in Brief

School has started at Chico State, and I see my life becoming full. Blogging entries may suffer as a result.

So I’m going to simply set out the next six steps on writing with the hopes of fleshing them out at irregular intervals in the next few weeks.

  1. Write three drafts: Down draft. Up draft. Out draft. Anne Lamott put it this way, "Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something -- anything -- down on paper. A friend of mine says that the first draft is the down draft -- you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft -- you fix it up. You try to say what you have to say more accurately. And the third draft is the dental draft, where you check every tooth, to see if it's loose or cramped or decayed, or even, God help us, healthy."
  2. Be curious. And read a lot.
  3. You probably don’t need an agent.
  4. Locate the right publisher.
  5. Find your marketing platform and promote.
  6. Live and write in community.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Positive Psychology, Scripture, and Becoming Fully Alive: Another Soul Dialogue

Nick (my imaginary friend): Ok, Greg, so far it seems like you’ve avoided the topic of positive psychology, Scripture, and becoming fully alive. Since it’s smoky this morning in Chico—the fires are taking their tolllet’s stop walking, and let me hear it all—whatever you’ve got to say. I’ll let you do most of the talking.

Greg: Let me start here this: When I was trained in the humanities starting at Cal, I learned from leading lights like Sigmund Freud that religion is an "illusion." (Today Richard Dawkins echoes this and calls religious belief a “delusion.”) 

Put in simple form: If you believe in God, you’re crazy. The stronger your belief, the crazier you are.

But here’s the weird thing: More sensible research, more scientific research—the kind backed up by quantitative and statistical analysis—leads to the opposite conclusion. By and large, religious belief leads to happier lives.
Four quick examples: First of all, one of the best resources for connecting faith ands science, the eSTEAM newsletter, which produced a whole issue on psychology

Second, the Greater Good Magazine at UCB (maybe my alma mater has learned something since I was there as an undergrad) has demonstrated the psychological benefits of forgiveness, which of course is a key teaching in Christianity.

Third, Health wrote about the “Five Surprising Health Benefits of Religion” like lower blood pressure, more life satisfaction, more resilience, healthier immune system, a longer life, 

And finally, even the HuffPo (not generally predisposed to propagating religious belief) published a piece on “Why Religion Is Linked With Better Health And Well-Being” 

You might say that, when we say yes to God, we say yes to happiness, the abundant life, and human flourishing. 

Chose one of the three for a description, but if you ask, Do I want one of these? The answer is Yes.

Nick: Ok, you’ve talked about the scientific studies. What about Scripture and human flourishing?

Greg: Just one example of many possibilities… I remember attending a conference on technology and faith where, at a lunchtime conversation, a bright, young physicist, who struck me as both articulate and ebullient, told me how she had struggled with depression. One of her problems was perseverating—thinking about the same thing over and over. The cognitive response she learned through her therapist was to let her brain saturate on positive thoughts—to  perseverate on positivity, perhaps. 

She pointed to Philippians as a beautiful expression of that work. Here’s how Eugene Peterson paraphrases a key verse:
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” Philippians 4:8, The Message
Nick: So there’s a way to wrap all these things together—positive psychology, Scripture, and becoming fully alive?

Greg: In a word, Yes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Re: Writing. The Buckshot Approach

One of the scenes I often see in Hollywood movies that I don’t also in real life is the writer absolutely taken with an idea, in fact a being so consumed with a passion that she can’t help but write. Not only that—but the ultimate product after those torrid hours of creativity is absolutely stunning, a miracle of inspiration and genius. 

The fantasy of inspiration and genius
 Can I burst Hollywood’s bubble? Writing hardly ever works like that. Now, if it does for you, please don’t tell me or your friends who are writers because we might become incredibly angry. It’s just not nice. 
For most mortals, I’ve got the sound piece of advice: Write on a schedule.

That’s the only way to produce something good. You have to create a rhythm in which you write at a certain each day. Or every other day. What is that time? You can answer that better than anyone. But most writers I know practice their craft early in the day. I find that as early as I can get to the computer after workout and a good breakfast—and before answering emails and cluttering my brain—that’s the time to create something.

Writing means rewriting
This leads me to more advice: Write and rewrite.

Please—if there’s anything I can implore you to avoid—Don’t fill the world with more bad writing! Anybody with a cell can tweet. We can even dictate to Siri and post to Facebook with anything like rewriting. Or fact checking. Or clarifying your meaning. Those are sins I’m hoping we all avoid.
Now, to be clear, I’m not sure you have to be as obsessive about writing with clarity as what I’ve heard about the brilliant novelist Marilynne Robinson (who wrote one of the greatest American novels of our time that also won a Pulitzer, Gilead). I’m told that she writes only on those people for whom she’s read their entire body of work. (Twenty-three years separate Gilead from her first novel, Housekeeping.) If Robinson's rubric sounds just a bit extreme and way too fanatical for most of us earthlings.
Nonetheless, we can still write. And re-write. How? I find that journaling a good practice because those entries exist just for me, and thus my brain turns off the edit switch. 
Clearly not using buckshot here
Blogging is another valuable practice. I look at my blog like visual artists view their “studies” do before they proceed fill the canvases. This blog is filled with my essays. And I mean that word in the sense of its roots. The “essay” comes from a Middle French word that means “to try.” So try some ideas out. Create a blog. Write for a local paper or small website. Or for your friend’s newsletter. 

The buckshot approach
In a way, I’m outlining a buckshot approach. I’m no hunter (see the picture of the first time I shot a handgun for evidence). Still I do know that you can put a single bullet in a gun and take one shot to hit the target. Or you can pack it with buckshot, which sprays around eight pellets. That way you don’t have to be as accurate. Or you can be more extreme and use a number 10 birdshot with its 848 pellets. 

In any event, I think my point is clear enough: Keep writing and rewriting. Fill the paper or your screen with enough attempts and you’ll hit something at some point. Or at least you’ll have tried.
So just write. And do it on a schedule. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Emotions: Helpful or Not? And Does Science Have Anything to Say about it? (Another Soul Dialogue)

Nick, my imaginary friend: Greg, did you say the topic today would be Scripture and positive psychology?

GSC: That I did! And we will get to it. But not today. Because first, I think we need to take on a common misconception about life and happiness.

Nick: Ok, what are you thinking?

GSC: It’s something I heard the other day in a sermon—“Christian faith isn’t all in your head.” On the one hand, Amen to that! On other hand, faith isn’t all in your feelings either!

Nick: Not to be too philosophical--or scientific--but no, duh.

GSC: You’d be surprised by how many people fall for the feelings trap. Can I show you an amazing drawing? It shows how facts must lead the train of our lives, which is followed by our faith in those facts, and then by our feelings. 

Nick: Hey, that’s not your picture! You stole it from Cru! And the train’s sleeker than in the ‘80s. It’s been updated from your college years.

GSC: You’re right on several fronts, and I admit that the language and image is a bit silly. But still the point is clear—don’t follow your feelings because they change. Put your faith in what you know to be true and the feelings will follow.

Nick: Ok, let me take on the role of an antagonist… What have you got against emotion? Don’t you realize that everything you care about is based on emotion? And what does science have to say?

GSC: Good question! I love emotion, and like Jonathan Edwards’s famous 18thcentury defense of “religious affections,” emotions or “affections” are central to most believers’ understanding of Christian faith and most people’s experience of life. 

Nick: Is there a difference for Edwards between emotions and affections?

GSC: Yes. “Affections” for Edwards represented something a bit more substantial than ephemeral emotions. Still the point stands—it’s not all cold rationality. 

Nick: I think that’s right. As you often hear in Plato's dialogues, “Socrates, you are the wisest man alive.”

GSC: Thanks. Hard to know what to say…

Nick: Here’s something. Aren’t these affections or emotions a gift to give us motivation?

GSC: God definitely gives us emotions or feelings. At the same time, it’s not feelings that define us. It’s actually walking in God’s way. As C. S. Lewis wrote in a letter to one of his many correspondents in 1950, 
“Obedience is the key to all doors: feelings come (or don’t come) and go as God pleases. We can’t produce them at will and mustn’t try.” C. S. Lewis
Nick: We haven't talked much about science, and I'm always interested in what scientists can contribute. Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio has found that, without emotions, we can’t make moral decisions.

GSC: There you go, always putting theology and science into the conversation!

Nick: Ok, I’ll do one more, Jonathan Haidt notes that often we, with our rational deliberation, are simply the rider on the back of the elephant of emotions. 

GSC: Tru dat! But the point is that, through taming our emotions, learning how to engage our rationality, and living in a good community, we learn to direct the elephant. 

Nick: So do you agree with Haidt or not?

GSC:  I think Haidt is good, but he overstates his case. In brief I'd say that we all default to Haidt, but shouldn't end there. And that I'm convinced the American church is too often led around by the vagaries of our emotions. It's not good...

Nick: Fair enough. So both emotions and reason need to work together, but it’s how we actually live that defines our happiness?

GSC: Ah yes, young padawan, you summarize well! I think you’ve learned much for today. Let’s keep walking. Next time, maybe we’ll pick up the topics of positive psychology and Scripture…

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Don’t Just Be Writer (Part Three)

Last week I mentioned personal branding—figuring out three or so words that define who you are. That way you can determine the itch that writing scratches. 

This week I turn to related topics. The first one is the most important.

Write about what really interests you
If you want to have something to say,
Have other interests.
If you address what you love in your words, the general rule is that your enthusiasm will be infectious.
      I’ll return to this below, and it is indeed my big idea point. But first I have another.

Why you can’t just write
Don’t just be a writer. In fact, being “just a writer”—throwing down your latest novel and raking in the profits as your sole occupation—that represents a relatively new thing, historically speaking. Through most of western history people wrote as part of lives in which they did other things like teaching, or being a monk.
     What are those other things? I have a friend who’s passionate about cycling and God. And so he’s writing the connection of those two. Another loves the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, the state of the soul, and the difference between final and efficient causation. An acquaintance is consumed with how to make your eight year old’s birthday party unique. Yet another is convinced he sees the connection between X-Men films and Christian theology. (Not all have the same size markets, but that’s why it’s important to have another way to make money.)

Going deep into your psyche
This implies something else. All this focus on personal branding and one’s “lust” from last week makes writing a very personal endeavor. You begin to go deep into your own psyche. (Or else you’ll just write tweet nasty things about other people to forget about the self-discovery.) So don’t be surprised that, when you write, you discover some weird stuff. 
      I’ll quote C. S. Lewis, who observed what happened when he—in a different context—looked inside:
“For the first time I examined myself with a seriously practical purpose. And there I found what appalled me; a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, a harem of fondled hatreds. My name was legion.” C.S. Lewis
When this happens, you might want to find a friend, a spouse, or a professional counselor to sort through this stuff.

The bad and the good
So definitely use your personal exploration in your writing. How you’re jealous about the terrible writing you read that’s somehow made it to the New York Times bestseller list. How Jello makes you irrationally angry. Why the saying, “the Pope is a trombone,” amuses you for hours.
      But I don’t want to suggest that the real me or the real you is all yucky. You might also find some good stuff. Like the fact that you really do love some learning about justice through reading every sermon by Martin Luther King, Jr. Or that you love knitting blankets so you can give them to moms and dads of newborns. Or that you like playing Scrabble and pinochle with lonely people at a senior center. 

I close with a question or two
-->How do you start? What are you doing today? What’s planned for this week? What other kind of work do you do? What’s your favorite hobby? Find some of the activities that you can reflect on. And put them into words.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Something New and Fresh in the Multiverse (Another Soul Dialogue)

News flash: Andy Walsh is moderating an online book club about Faith Across the Multiverse: Parables from Modern Science (read an excerpt here). It's moderated through Joshua Swamidass's Peaceful Science, and you can sign up here.

Andy talking about his book with grad student
(The walk, and dialogue on the soul at Gordon College, continues...)

Bob (my imaginary friend): Greg, what do you think about Andy Walsh's new book?

Greg: Do you have a few minutes for me to spiel a bit? It's a fascinating book...

The best way for me to understand this remarkably different presentation of faith and science in Faith Across the Multiverse is to highlight that Andy Walsh is a “translator.” Why do I arrive at this? We found ourselves together at a lunch meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation in late July where he spoke to a group of graduate students from InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF).  Andy commented on the book (and I quote from notes enhanced by memory): 
“This book is full of stories because stories orient us. Theology and science can be abstract, and so I fill this book with narratives from X Men movies. In many ways, Faith across the Multiverseis a translation.” Andy Walsh

(Full disclosure: Andy is a blogger for the Emerging Scholars Network, which received a STEAM grant for which I’m project leader. I felt like I needed to say that.)

Andy’s words reminded me of the one I call Saint Clive—Clive Staples Lewis—and how he viewed translation. As a boy, Lewis never forgot reading the fantasy fiction of a Scottish minister, George MacDonald. 
“In reading Fantasies, my imagination was baptized.” C.S. Lewis
As a result, in Lewis’s fiction and even his non-fiction, Lewis sought to baptize his readers’ imaginations, which implied translation into vernacular images and language. As he once advised Anglican priests and youth leaders, 
“You must translate every bit of your theology into the vernacular…. A passage from some theological work for translation into the vernacular ought to be a compulsory paper in every ordination examination.” C.S. Lewis
Though not an Anglican priest or youth leader—Andy works as a science writer for IVCF’s Emerging Scholars blog and the Patheos network (among other things)—he still could be earning a St. Clive Certificate of Translation. (To be honest, someday I hope someone will award me one.)

Not saving my quibbles until the end, let me verbalize that translation is hard work. When I comment that there are several pop culture analogies in Faith Across the Multiverse, I’m not overstating. The book truly is replete with X Men, Star Wars, the Justice League, et al. allusions. Though I don’t mind an action hero movie, I’m no fanatic, and sometimes the analogies seemed to me overwrought or simply repetitive. In fact, some I like much better than others, which represents one issue with pop culture—X Mendoesn’t do it for me, and so I preferred the topic of entropy addressed via Joker and Two-Face in Christopher Nolan’s Batmanseries (pp. 120ff.)

But even further, pop culture is not called “high culture” for a reason. It doesn’t always carry more substantive ideas. Do we need to limit ourselves as translators of faith and science issues to what popular media can provide? Do we need to take the scraps, or fast food, from their table? 

I couldn’t entirely suppress these questions. But then again, I’m at least a couple and half decades older than an important demographic. His use of popular media means has remarkable ability to speak to a population that I care deeply about, 18-30 year olds. In an email, Andy told me that the Faith across the Multiverse “might be particularly relevant to emerging adults, as there is also a significant pop culture element. Since both the science and theology can get abstract, I introduce each topic with a sci-fi story to help with accessibility.”

I’ve mentioned several points on presentation, and so I only have space to touch on a few topics.

Again from the email, 
“I find it helpful to think about God's grace using the idea of strange attractors from chaos theory. The hope is that believers might see new value to science in helping them get a fresh perspective on God & Christian teaching, while science-literate folks might find that Christianity makes more sense in these terms. (And, of course, plenty of folks may fall in both categories.)” Andy Walsh
I’d add to this the topics of mathematics, physics, and computer science all play a role. And several of these combinations strike the reader (or at least this reader). That belief in God is axiomatic is generative. His title for chapter 7, for example, that “The Genome Made Flesh” is arresting. His delayed approach to evolution (it doesn’t appear until page 243) is striking, in which he tells the reader that “I was just as surprised as you when I realized it, this entirebook has actually been about evolution” (243). That might surprise his more conservative readers. All in all and as a result, I suspect that most readers will end up learning quite a bit, about pop culture, biblical texts, theology, and a variety of sciences.

I close with this. Having been in the business of studying theology and science books for at least three decades, I find a freshness in Faith Across the Multiverse. It might even be, in the lingo of emerging adults, “legit,” “cool,” “tight,” “sweet,” or “ill.”

So there you have it. Bob, read it and see what you decide.

Bob: Super interesting! Hey, look over there--I see Josh, who's moderating the book club on Andy's book--talking with Steve Moshier. Aren't they both STEAM grantees? Let's head that way.

Greg: Let's do that, and why don't we talk a bit about what Scripture and positive psychology about the soul...

(To be continued...)

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Because it’s a "Lust"—that’s Why We Write (Part Two)

This week’s title comes from C. S. Lewis. When questioned about why we penned numerous books (as many, by some counts, as his 65 years of life): 
“Writing is like a ‘lust,’ or like 'scratching when you itch.’ Writing comes as a result of a very strong impulse, and when it does come, I, for one, must get it out.” C. S. Lewis
But I want an audience!
Knowing how strong the impulse is to write, I realize how we also want people to read our work. Several years back, I heard Anne Lamott speak in midtown Manhattan. It was quite a combination—this left-leaning, openly Christian, seemingly ditzy, Northern Californian with dreads addressing an assembled group of New York sophisticates (with the sufficient proportions of men in black turtlenecks and women in sleek gray dresses). At any rate, she told us directly (and I quote, very loosely, from memory): 
“We write because we love to, but as writers, we also want to have an audience—that’s why we write.” Anne Lamott
So start there. Don’t write on a topic because it’s the “it” thing. I once mentioned to Lauren Winner—after a panel she was on put together by HarperOne—that I wanted to figure out how to write on a topic that would sell. Her response? “That’s boring.” 
If you’re stuck on what to write on, here’s a first step: take a quick look through what you’re reading. Do you see any key themes? I’m going to guess that there are probably no more than six key themes in your assortment of books, websites, magazines, and blogs.

Finding your voice 
So having found your interest, the next question is your voice. Where is your voice? How can you find it if it’s just a bit too muted right now?
I’ve written another, almost devotional, book on how to find your passion, your calling, The Time for Yes. 

One key exercise is personal brandingHere’s a quick overview—and you’ll more here.
Personal branding
Personal branding, as I define it, applies some principles of product branding to our individual identity and therefore our goals.
Begin by brainstorming. Write out every adjective, verb, or noun you’d use to represent you. How do others actually describe you? Then ask friends over a coffee and through Facebook message or email for five to ten words about you. What are they? Energetic. Hilarious. Spiritual. Committed…
Next, chart those on the top half with words that you’d like to describe you and with words others use. Take a moment to observe what you’ve written. How do the two lists line up?
I’m assuming you have about twenty to thirty words. Enjoy those words for a few minutes. But now comes the hard part. You start saying no.. Take a first whack at the list. Reduce your list to about ten words. Take time: Hang with those for a few minutes. Then let them sit, and come back to them later. When you do, then prioritize them. Look not only for descriptors that apply today, but also for your preferred future. Let the priorities determine the remaining three. The three you’ll say yes to. 

Now write out those three essential, goal-defining words. That's your personal brand. It will direct your life and your writing.

And let those words define your “lust” for writing. Hey, maybe it’s even your lust for life. Next week I’ll get into why you need to love life. You’ve got to have something to write about. You can’t just be a writer.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

A Meandering Walk at Gordon College with Bob, My Imaginary Friend

(This continues my Dialogues on the Soul series...)

GSC: Hey, here we are now at Gordon College. It’s amazing how we get around!

Bob (My Imaginary Friend): Greg, what brings you here?

GSC: I’m at the annual meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation (or ASA).

Bob: Isn’t Gordon beautiful?

GSC: Yes! Gordan College is incredibly well maintained. It definitely has that feel of a northeastern liberal arts campus. You know—beautiful brick buildings and well-maintained lawns. A large coy pond surrounded by forests and walking paths and a host of other small lakes. I might even take a run and a swim. But I digress…

Bob: What are you finding at the conference?

GSC: My overall impression of the ASA meeting is that people are both very committed to science and to their Christian faith. Almost everyone I’ve met are scientists, and their scientific credentials and insights strike me as well-nigh impeccable. If anything's lack, it's a deep integration with theology and biblical studies.

Bob: Anything else?

GSC: I've been inspired by some great talks on the influence of technology. Like Nigel M. de S. Cameron of Trinity Evangelical Divinity. He posed what is for me one of the BIG question for the 21stcentury: 
Can the individual flourish while technology expands?
And for me, it's got some specific payoff. I’m teaching a western civilization course this fall at Chico State, and it made me wonder: What will teaching humanities mean as we move to trans- or post-humanism?

Bob: Man, tech is a crazy critical topic!

GSC: No doubt. The talk by Timothy Opperman, who did his theological work at Regent College, addressed the seemingly insane idea of a “digital soul” with artificial intelligence (or AI). Here's my burning question: if an AI robots have soul and thus volition, will they have to pay taxes. Forget about Alan Turing, that’s my test for humanness.

Bob: Has anything surprised you?

Greg: Many here are much more amenable to (though not fully embracing of) Intelligent Design theory (ID). Some ID peeps were in fact at the conference, sprinkled among crowd. When former ASA Executive Director Randy Isaac gave a talk critiquing the ID book, Theistic Evolution (which argues against TE), one of the editors was there in the audienceOddly enough, this occurred while watching Expelled while I got dressed (etc.) in my room in which Ben Stein makes a satirical case for how "intelligent design"... without, I would note, really noting the particulars of ID theory as a paradigm. Stein argues those who seek intelligent design (really God) are being excluded, or “expelled,” from universities and the wider culture.

Bob: I’ve been thinking a good deal of time working on the question of the historical Adam and Eve and the implications of science. Did you touch on that topic?

GSC: In fact, I did! How did you know? I was on a panel for a workshop put together by Washington University professor of computational biology Joshua Swamidass. The historical Adam and Even is a huge topic for the evangelical world. Bottom line of the workshop? Science certainly doesn’t per se lead to an historical Adam and Eve—that’s what we get from the Bible and theology—but science, doesn’t disprove its possibility either.

Bob: The highlight of the whole event?

GSC: That’s gotta be the experience of hearing Francis Collins and the work
he’s doing with biotechnology. I felt as if I was hearing Louis Pasteur or Francis Salk. He showed a video of two year old’s cure form spinal muscular atrophy (like ALS for infants) using biotechnology. 

Bob: Why did it have an impact on you?

GSC: Collins wound this science together with a thoughtful presentation of Christian faith… almost like the double strand of DNA. In fact, after the talk, he headed to a room where we could all sing together and led us in a variety of spiritual and folk classics (and there was a DNA strand graphic on his guitar's neck).
Author Andy Walsh

At any rate, after his talk, I stood and simply took in what I heard. I found myself typing this into my iPhone Notes: 
“Profound. God is doing something through this man.” 
When I think about science and faith—hey, when I just think about life and thought generally—that’s about as good as it gets.

Bob: Hey, there's Andy Walsh, who wrote Faith Across the Multiverse, let's go talk with him...

GSC: Let's do that in the next edition of our dialogues.